From The Report: Mongolia 2012
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Agriculture, particularly herding, is the traditional foundation of Mongolia’s economy and culture. Even today, the sector supplies 20% of GDP and employs 35-40% of its population. But the transition to modernity has been jarring, with Soviet experiments in collectivised farming and a modern emphasis on producing for export. Cashmere wool has been the true success story here, earning $180m in income in 2009. However, there are concerns that the profitability of cashmere is pushing herders to switch their flocks to goats, increasing desertification. Another constant threat to the sector is Mongolia’s recurrent dzuds — extremely cold winters — which killed more than a quarter of all livestock in the winter of 2009-10.